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I've read through the last year or so of this board, and the inheritance strategies board, but haven't seen the answer to my question...

My 68 year old father is very frugal. He reminds me of those people who pass away and leave a staggering amount of money to charity, while never showing any signs of the wealth they had. He has been divorced since 1973. He refuses to make a will, probably because he doesn't want to pay a lawyer or have anyone pay a lawyer for him. About 5 years ago, after a sudden illness ( with a full recovery), he told me that his non-IRA account was listed as JTWROS with mine and my brother's name. He said that this would avoid any problems with probate when he passes away. Very recently he told me how much the account is worth and it was a real shocker, around $1.5 million! The more I think about this, the more questions I have. He doesn't want to hear them, and I really don't want to bug him about this any more than I already have. I have several questions:

1. Do we (my brother and I) have any tax liability for capital gains and dividends on this account? I'm sure that he has been taking care of any taxes due on the proceeds, but don't some of those tax liabilites belong to us?

2. Any suggestions on how to re-approach this with our father without sounding greedy (maybe the taxation issue will re-open the dialog).

3. If he changed the status to JTWROS when there was a significant amount of money in the account, can gift tax be due?

I guess this problem falls in the category of "good problems to have" but I would like to handle it in the most up-front and legal manner.


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